What lessons should Schatz learn from his experience in "A Day's Wait"? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hemingway's slice-of-life short story "A Day's Wait" illustrates how psychologically and emotionally devastating a misunderstanding can become. Hopefully, young Schatz learns from his experience to trust his father and to be sure that he is correct in his assumptions about new information provided to him. 

Schatz makes the mistake of thinking only from his own experience. Having gone to school in Europe, when he hears the doctor tell his father that his temperature is one hundred and two, Schatz thinks in terms of what he has currently learned, the metric system. However, Americans use Fahrenheit, a temperature scale based on one proposed in 1724 by the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, and this is the scale used by the doctor. The father assumes that Schatz knows this system; so, unfortunately, when the father leaves his son's bedroom, Schatz misunderstands the reason, and he incorrectly believes that his parent cannot bear his son's fatal illness, when, instead, the father is merely taking a break to go hunting. Therefore, while he is alone, poor Shatz is convinced that he will die. Later, upon the father's return, the traumatized boy

...had been waiting to die all day, ever since nine o'clock in the morning.

This anxiety of waiting to die has traumatized Schatz, and he becomes detached, crying "very easily at little things of no importance."

Had he only thought to talk with his father about his temperature, Schatz would have known that he was all right. It is a hard lesson with devastating effects; but, hopefully, Schatz will recover and know in the future to not assume things.

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